Back from the desert, we shoot final lip-sync headshots in Sarge’s garden and find an enormous shiny black widow spider in a lawn ornament. It’s beautiful and scary. Returning the camera, they try to charge Stephen $80 for an instruction manual we weren’t given in the first place.
The final L.A. show is downtown at Bordello, where the decor and staff outfits match the name. The semi-circular stage has a patterned see-through gauze curtain for burlesque girls to dance behind, plus another classic red velvet curtain, as well as an opulent oriental shrine-like backdrop. I wish I had the nerve to perform behind the gauze (and do some dancing). There are dusty vintage oil paintings of pin-ups everywhere. Actually, that’s an L.A. thing – loads of grimy city bars have oil painted glamour girls on the walls, as if having it done by hand instead of photographed makes it any less seedy.
Frank pulls out yet another terrific one, though I fuck up the cue to solo kazoo on ‘Nashville’. When it’s my turn, I do something I rarely manage when things go wrong: I rescue a weak (oddly disinterested though I don’t know why) first few songs, pulling myself together to turn in a strong overall set. The bad start may be as simple as no bottom-end on the guitar in the monitor, so in ‘Tomorrow Morning’, when I hit the deeper minor-key chords for the bridge, there’s nothing down there. That song must be one of those key moments in my set where I subconsciously assess what’s going down – it can trigger the “What the fuck am I doing here!?” brain pattern. Luckily victory comes in the last 15 minutes. I do ‘Cull’ at the end and wish I’d included it more often on this tour.
Here’s a lovesong: at one side of the room, there’s Mike, who famously loves girls’ feet beyond all other things. On the other side of the room, there’s Maria, with lavishly tattooed oriental symbols on her feet. Like ships in the night, these two strangers will probably never meet, which is a great pity. Plus, Mike just got a girlfriend.
One table near the stage on our left, slightly out of eye-range, talks loudly all the way through, despite regular shushing from the crowd. Neither me or Frank say anything but the terrific piano-playing girl on after us gives them some shit.
On Beverly Bvd, for the first time, I get charged for wireless internet in this manky café, full of suits. Then a bitchy waitress shushes me for iChatting with Rifa, even though I was dead quiet, nobody else was remotely disturbed and there were several louder phonecalls going on – I think she’s a bit pissed off / freaked out that we’re video-chatting. I finish quickly and I’m just typing, when she suggests I ‘could’ go somewhere else. I suggest for her a method of self-pleasuring with an item of furniture and take my business to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf across the road.